RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A new drug has been found to reduce the risk of cancer reoccurring by 50 percent and a Richmond hospital is behind a major medical breakthrough for breast cancer patients.
It brings new hope to patients like 42-year-old Katharine Brookeman.
“I already know my last chemo date is March 22, yay,” says Brookeman as she gets another round of chemotherapy with her good friend by her side. The Richmonder and mother of three felt a lump on her breasts back in October and immediately went to the doctor.
“I got a call from my biopsy doctor that said it was cancer,” she explained.
She was diagnosed with HER2-positive breast cancer. One in six breast cancer patients get this form of it.
“It’s a very aggressive type of cancer,” she says.
Doctors say Brookeman’s tumor was big and patients with HER2-positive breast cancer are at a higher risk of their cancer coming back.
Yet, with the support of her friends and pioneering research, she’s staying optimistic.
“We were very pleased with the results,” says Dr.Charles Geyer, who is Associate Director of Clinical Research at VCU Massey Cancer Center. He led a global clinical trial ironically called “Katherine” at VCU’s Massey Cancer Center.
Dr. Geyer recently presented the results to the medical community at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium and the findings drew applause.
“You don’t often get applause at the end of a presentation at a scientic meeting where medical oncologists are kind of, a bit of boring group,” said Dr. Geyer.
The 5-year clinical study found the drug, known simply as T-DM1, reduces the risk the HER2 positive cancer from recurring by 50 percent.
“When we developed the study we were hoping maybe we would see maybe 25 percent to 30 percent improvement and we saw 50 percent improvement which is quite remarkable,” Dr. Geyer told 8News.
“Thank goodness for medicine right now,” says Brookeman.
The findings bring relief that this Katharine who is still hoping her chemo and upcoming surgery will wipe out this cancer once and for all.
“If it’s not, there is another avenue to explore which is super positive and something I am excited about..” she said.